Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Creo, My Take on It - Part 2

Part 2: Creo and “AnyMode Modeling”

<< Part 1

There is a significant difference between using a parametric (history-based) system as your primary design tool and using a direct modeling (history-free) system as your primary design tool. These two technologies offer completely different methodologies and experiences for product development. Certainly a company that has standardized on parametric modeling may get value from the flexibility of direct editing in certain areas of the process, but if they have chosen the history-tree to be the engineering master (document of record), the history-tree needs to remain the master. If, on the other hand, a company chooses direct modeling as their primary design tool and understands geometry to be the engineering master, geometry needs to remain the master.

With Creo, I don't think PTC is somehow attempting to mix these two in some convoluted way, inevitably leading to a compromise in both methods and data. On the contrary, PTC is providing powerful purpose built solutions, tied together through the common data model.

For the company that has chosen to standardize on a parametric history-based solution, Creo provides a high-end purpose-built no compromise parametric modeling app AND a complimentary purpose built direct modeling app. This particular direct modeling app provides an option to track direct edits into the common data model. These records can then be accessed and consumed by a parametric app that can make sense of them as it relates to the ordered feature tree. The user of the parametric app is given a choice to accept or reject modifications. If accepted, the edits will be reflected appropriately in the tree. This direct app can be used in a parametric environment to allow infrequent users, or perhaps even non-CAD users of the parametric app to more easily participate in the design process. This capability makes it possible to take a fully parametric model into a much simpler direct environment, make edits as necessary, then bring it back into the parametric environment with NO data loss – maintaining the engineering master. I’ve heard some call it “round tripping” (P>D>P: Parametric>Direct>Parametric). PTC’s round trip is made possible via the common data model and is very unique. It is of course important to understand process to determine where this type of workflow makes sense, but when and where it does, Creo can support it.

With Creo, PTC is also providing the best most powerful direct modeling app on the market that is capable of supporting complete art-to-part. For companies that chose direct modeling as their primary design tool, and geometry as their master, Creo provides the best, no compromise solution. This app comes with a synchronous parametric solver when firm design intent is needed. These customers can also take advantage of the parametric app as needed if and when there are circumstances that are well served with the parent/child relationship of parametric modeling. Via the CDM, the resulting geometry can quickly and easily be incorporated into the direct design environment and carried forward as native data.

Part 3


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creo, My Take on It - Part 1

I have written about Fusion, SpaceClaim and recently Synchronous Technology, so I guess I should write something about Creo. I am an employee of PTC so I want to make it clear that what I write on my blog is my own personal opinions and may not reflect the opinions of my employer. At PTC I am responsible for technical sales. I am not a product developer, product manager or in a marketing position, so I have no direct responsibility for what Creo is. I view the development of Creo from the sidelines (although I guess that’s better than the bleachers).

I’m sure that most of you have already heard about Creo. I’ve read much about it online in many publications, blogs and forums. There seems to be many different ideas about what it is, what it’s going to be, and what it is not. It’s been interesting to see what PTC is working on and seeing it come to reality. PTC already has the most robust direct modeling technology in the CoCreate product, now Creo Elements/Direct. And of course, they also have the most powerful parametric modeling tool in Pro/E, now Creo Elements/Pro. As a matter of fact these products were the first of their kind that led to many followers – in both cases.

Part 1: Creo and the “Common Data Model”

So what is Creo? The graphic above is indicating the concept of many purpose built applications, all with a common user interface and a common user experience. These apps are sitting on top of what PTC is calling the “common data model” (CDM). There are many advances PTC is making with Creo. For me I am always interested in what’s happening on the direct modeling side, and Creo certainly involves direct modeling. But before getting into that it may be more appropriate to discuss this common data model, (CDM), as this sets the stage for much of what Creo is.

In the graphic above the blue internal arrows basically reference the common data model. I overheard a PTC Product Manager describing the CDM as a book with chapters. It sounded like each chapter could contain different things related to the data that may be created and consumed in the context of Creo. Depending on the “app”, different chapters may be accessed for storage and retrieval. Beyond this I don’t know a lot of details, but I could envision how there could be a chapter for 2D geometry, one for 3D geometry, one for design intent, one for the associated drawing, one for FEA attributes, one for sheet metal attributes, one for NC tool paths, one for technical pubs, and so on. And it’s conceivable that multiple apps could be accessing the CDM synchronously, interacting with the appropriate chapters as needed. The CDM is much more than a common file format or a common data structure and the possibilities are intriguing.

If I’m correct, or at least close in my description of the CDM then the concept of what PTC refers to as “AnyApps”, can really start to make sense. This could be a very powerful approach in solving many issues related to interoperability and consistency across purpose built apps. Lightweight purpose built apps that can read and write into the different “chapters” of the CDM as needed. This would be true of all the “apps”, even the bigger geometry creating apps, whether direct or parametric. Through the CDM a person could chose to use a purpose built standalone 2D app to do some early concepting, for example, and never be disconnected from the engineering master. In this example, the 2D geometry could then easily be utilized in the development of a 3D model, while the CDM maintains the appropriate linkages and consistencies. Today the only way to get this level of consistency is with one big monolithic application that does it all.

Time will tell, and as I learn more about it I hope to share it with you. It seems that the CDM puts the right foundation to Creo.

Part 2